JSW set to get POSCO land
Apr. 16, 2022 - Odisha is confident of handing over a 2,950 acre land to Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Steel this fiscal, promising to score a major turnaround in the annals of land acquisition in India.
The land parcel near the Paradip port was once earmarked for the Korean giant Posco’s mega steel plant. The project never got off the ground as protests over land acquisition spoiled the company’s great gambit to have a major presence in India.
The state, however, claims it has ironed out most of the issues associated with the land parcel, especially a slither of 50 acres. It has been able to build a 9km long boundary wall around the plot out of the required 16 km.
“We are absolutely sure to hand over the land to JSW. This will be a major turnaround story for Odisha,” Hemant Sharma, principal secretary of industry, told The Telegraph in an interview.
JSW has promised to invest Rs 65,000 crore in the steel plant for which it received environment clearance from the Centre earlier this week. The Odisha High Court also recently dismissed a batch of PILs against the project.
The physical transfer of the land will be a big milestone for Odisha as well as India where setting up manufacturing units over large tracts of land have been enmeshed in controversy. Several projects such as the Posco steel plant and the Tata small car unit in Bengal, failed to take off as landowners and farmers resisted industrialisation.
Sharma said the state administration is treading very cautiously this time around, taking everyone on board. Most of the land is in forest area and with the government already. The administration has entered into a negotiated settlement with land owners.
Posco had entered into an MoU with Odisha in 2005. The company officially abandoned the project in 2017. JSW showed interest in building a greenfield steel plant in 2020 in Odisha. The state administration then earmarked the Posco land, much of which was already acquired for the Korean major, for the Jindals.
With the state administration confident of handing over the land with all clearances, Odisha will provide JSW Steel, the flagship business of $13 billion JSW Group, the runaway to achieve 50 million tonne (mt) capacity.
With a capacity of 28mt in India and the US (including capacities under joint control), the company has a roadmap for the next phase of growth to achieve 37.5mt capacity by FY25. The Paradip plant will be over and above that. The company has four iron ore mines in the state as well.
With proximity to the port and necessary linkage to the iron ore mine, the location is ideal to build large steel plants. AMNS India, the joint venture of ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel, is keen to build a 6mt plant at Paradip, apart from another 24 million tonne unit in Odisha.